Alice Goffman: As an undergraduate studying sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, Alice Goffman was inspired to write her senior thesis about the lives of the young people living in the historic African-American neighborhood that surrounded the school. She lived side-by-side with a group of young men in one of the US’s most distressed communities, experiencing a troubling and rarely discussed side of urban policing — the beatings, late night raids and body searches that systematically pit young men against authority.
Goffman spent six years in the community, the work transforming into her dissertation at Princeton and then into the book, On the Run. In it, Goffman weaves groundbreaking research into a narrative amplifying neglected and often-ignored voices into a stirring, personal indictment of the social, economic and political forces that unwittingly conspire to push entire communities to the margins of society.
Why are we not providing support to young kids facing these challenges? Why are we offering only handcuffs, jail time and this fugitive existence? Can we imagine something better?
– Alice Goffman
• How do we define “racism” and “classism”?
• Is the division in the U.S. over law enforcement practices a product of “racism” or is it more a result of “classism” or something else?
• Both progressives and conservatives agree that education is the key to a better society in general, but what are the roadblocks to providing better education for those who are economically disadvantaged?